From the e-mails and voice mails:
THEIR HERO — He gave his niece a kidney, and hope for a long, healthy life.
Now, friends and family of Duane Ney want to help the father of eight who put her future before his own and his family's.
In February 2006, I wrote about Alicia Ney, then 15 (now 17) and in need of a kidney. The perfect match? Her uncle Duane, a 37-year-old driver for Foster Farms.
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The transplant surgery, which they thought would happen in March of that year, was delayed because of complications involving Alicia's blood counts.
Then she contracted a disease caused, her mother said, by the contrast agent used in magnetic resonance imaging, and she had to have the operation very quickly.
Friday, at the University of California at San Francisco's Medical Center, she got her new kidney.
"She's doing really, really well," said Cheryl Ney, Alicia's mother. "We might be able to go to the family house (outpatient quarters) by Friday."
Likewise, Duane is doing very well and recuperating at home his home in Ceres.
But making the payments on that home, as well as feeding his family, won't be as easy on $474 weekly disability payments until he can return to work in 12 weeks.
So Alicia's grandfather, Tohmia Welch, and Beatrice Bean, who work together at Seneca Foods, have started a trust fund for Duane at Washington Mutual.
Duane's wife, Marni, learned of the fund Monday.
"The words 'thank you' are too light," she said. "They don't mean enough. I don't know the one lady (Bean) at all. It's so neat that they would do that."
Especially since he never expected anything in return, Marni Ney said.
"It's very humbling," she said. "But going into something like this, you can't put a price on a life. Sure, I wonder, 'How are we going to survive for 12 weeks?' But Duane felt all along, this is what he was born for — for this reason."
And for that, Cheryl Ney said, "He's our hero. He's our Superman."
Anyone can contribute to the Duane Joseph Ney trust account by visiting at any Washington Mutual branch.
FOR THE RECORD — In September 2006, I wrote about William Lawlis Pace of Turlock, who holds the Guinness world record for living the longest — 89 years — with a bullet in his head.
At that point, he had only the certificate recognizing his achievement. Now the 2008 book is out, and you'll find Pace's amazing feat listed on Page 68.
Pace, who turned 98 in February, soon expects to add another a year to his record. He was 8 years old and living in Wheeler, Texas, when his brother, Marvin, accidentally shot him in the head in October 1917.
Doctors of that era didn't have the skills or technology to remove the bullet, so it stayed put.
In 2003, a Japanese man claimed to have lived 53 years with a bullet in his head — a record at the time. But it was broken every subsequent year as people became aware Guinness had listed it. Pace claimed it when his granddaughter learned the record was 61 years as of 2005, and his family submitted the paperwork.
Now, he's creeping up on 90 years with the bullet intact. That will be tough for anyone to beat — especially if he keeps on raising the bar.
AROUND THE BLOCK — In Sunday's column on the Gallo Center for the Arts, I pointed out some of the other businesses that occupied the property before the center was built. Those included a bank, a livery stable, hotel and telegraph office.
Add to that list, courtesy of retired Bee editor Ray Nish, the former offices of The Bee and Modesto Irrigation District along with coffee shops, restaurants and a jewelry store over the years.
SOLD, NOT SUNKEN — In my column last week about Dewz restaurant's impending move to 1505 J St., I wrote that Nosh, on 13th between I and J, had gone under. Bob Eckert, the restaurant and property owner, said that wasn't the case. He received an offer from Vito's that he simply couldn't pass up (OK, couldn't refuse), since he never really intended to be in the restaurant business anyway. Vito's will open as soon as its liquor license is approved by the state, Eckert said.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2383.